Well, people have always been arguing about the virtues of refractors as deep sky instruments, especially in the 100mm-plus aperture range. But the newer breed of fast but well corrected small refractors can hold their own in the refractor deep-sky race. I recently became the owner of such an instrument, a f5.5 60mm APO refractor from Teleskop Service.
I must admit that I had been introduced to this model some time ago when Nicknacknock had a another example for a short while and was mentioning its virtues all the time, but I must admit that at the time I did not really pay much attention to his impressive comments.
Recently, I became intrigued by a special observing project that I have in mind and for which I would need a high quality short focal length (less than 400mm) well corrected fast refractor, that would double use as a good photographic instrument. I must admit I started looking at the various Takahashi offerings as I am a Takahashi fanatic, but then suddenly the TS 60mm became available for me as a close friend was selling it due to his relocation to the United States. I immediately "grabbed" the opportunity, but a spate of bad weather, along with some health issues prevented me from using it until last evening.
Well, being February, Orion was at the zenith, so it was reasonable to be chosen as a first target. To say I was impressed would be an underestimate with a large margin. Using a Televue 31mm Nagler I had a whopping 7-degree field to play with, and stars were pinpoint almost to the edges. but what impressed me the most, was the ability of this instrument to show, under rural SQM 21.0 skies, the various nebulosities of central Orion with direct vision. Yes, they were small, thus with little detail, but they were there. I could readily see the M42-M43 complex, the Flame (NGC 2023), and, most surprisingly, IC433 without using a filter. At this low magnification (11x) I was not able to detect the Horsehead, but the IC434 streamer was distinctly present (albeit faint). I did detect the Horsehead by using a 13mm Televue Ethos with an H-Beta filter, albeit it was a hard observation and I could hold it only at times with direct vision as a tiny little notch in the nebulosity (using the H-beta on the 31mm Nagler did make all three visible nebulosities somewhat easier to see, but again the Horsehead was not detectable, and the brightness of the stars was subdued, thus I preferred the filterless view).
In addition, I did observe the Rosette Nebula using the 31mm Nagler, and could detect the faint nebulosity, although the use of a UHC filter made the nebula considerably easier to study.
Just scanning around the sky using such a wide field instrument gave an immense joy. Bright stars such as Sirius did not show any false color. Obviously no bright planets were visible at the time to see but as a short focal length instrument it is not really intented for high resolution planetary observing anyway.
I am posting a drawing of the central Orion region, showing my observation from last night, along with a brightened version (the "dark" version really corresponds better to what I have seen, but the resolution limits of CN will probably make it difficult or impossible to see the Flame and IC434 on the screen).